Every family has its fair share of ups and downs – after all, a family is made up of individuals and each individual has their own unique character. Now, growing up with famous parents – that’s a whole other ball game; and one that Willow and Jaden Smith have had to play their whole lives. Growing up as the children of the legendary Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith must not have been easy and in a recent episode of ‘Red Table Talk’ on Facebook Watch, Willow confirmed it.
During the episode, Willow took her place beside her mother Jada Pinkett Smith and grandmother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, to discuss mom-shaming. Pinkett Smith had shared that the peak of the mom-shaming she experienced came when Willow – then aged 11 – decided to shave her head despite the massive success that came with her hair-related hit, ‘Whip My Hair’. Following the shave, Willow dyed her hair an array of colours and started experimenting on her style. Willow was also quick to point out that the ‘Girls Trip’ actress received backlash for choosing to homeschool her two children. In response, Pinkett Smith shrugged that had she chosen differently, she would have been shamed for not being with them as they grew up. Either way, Pinkett Smith elaborates, because the siblings “weren’t raised typically”, they found that the African-American community viewed it as “something new”.
As a result of this revelation, 19-year-old Willow elaborated on the point by sharing what it felt like growing up with their famous parents, stating,
“Specifically with the African American community, I kind of felt like me and Jaden were shunned a little bit, like, ‘We’re not gonna take pride in them because they’re too different’. Even some of our family members, I would feel they thought, ‘You’re too different,'”
Even Jaden’s decision to wear a skirt for Louis Vuitton’s 2016 womenswear campaign was “too different” and Pinkett Smith was mom-shamed for allowing her son to do so. The 49-year-old mom said,
“When he was wearing a skirt, then he isn’t what people consider your ‘typical Black man,'”
It got so bad that Willow says she had people come up to her at events just to comment on her upbringing.
“It was always like,”‘It’s not your fault, your mother should have taught you better, it’s not your fault you’re crazy,'”
However, it is their upbringing that has helped the siblings embrace their own unique identities and has helped them make their mark in both the fashion and music industry. Through the backlash, criticism and hate, Willow and Jaden have had the unwavering support of their parents. As an example of that support, Pinkett Smith shared that she wouldn’t have stopped Willow from shaving her head because she was the one who’d seen how much that act of rebellion (as Willow herself coined it) had impacted her daughter.
“If they could have seen this child’s expression of freedom, looking at her hair falling to the ground. Me as a mom looking at that, experiencing that with her, there’s nothing anyone could say to me to tell me that it was wrong. Not one person, because I was there, I was looking at her, I saw her face, I knew the journey she and I took together to get to that point. It didn’t matter what anybody said.””
In the end, Pinkett Smith shared her wishes for the Black community in terms of parenting and the future of their children. She called for the Black community to stop creating “stereotypes around ourselves”.
“It’s something that we as a community have to learn how to let go of. It felt like, ‘It’s dangerous. You cannot afford to raise your children this way because it’s dangerous. You know what it’s like to be a Black or brown person in this world. You are doing your kids a disservice.’ I understood where that fear came from, but I also understood from having been on the streets and … not [being] your ‘conventional Black girl’ in the streets of Baltimore, I knew that self-confidence is what helped me survive.”
Watch the full “Red Table Talk” episode here. The episode also features special (physically distanced) guests Jessica Alba and Ashley Graham.